Posts Tagged: Robbin Thorp
Don’t tell that to Derek Downey, who has been trying to schedule the grand opening of the Davis Bee Sanctuary now for the past two weeks.
It appears that rain is falling mainly on the Davis Bee Sanctuary.
A grand opening initially set March 21 and then changed to March 31 has now been re-scheduled for Sunday, April 1.
“It’s supposed to rain hard on Saturday, March 31, and be nice on Sunday, April 1,” said Downey, who heads the Davis Bee Collective and its newly landscaped site, the Davis Bee Sanctuary.
He’s hoping the weather will “bee nice.”
The Davis Bee Collective, a community of small-scale beekeepers founded by a former UC Davis entomology graduate student Eli Sarnat, will host the grand opening of the sanctuary from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 1 on Orchard Park Drive, near The Domes student housing. The public is invited.
The open house will be an opportunity for area residents and prospective members to “come meet the beekeepers," Downey said. The event will include tours, honey tasting, a permaculture lesson covering hugelkultur (the drought-tolerant technique being used at the sanctuary), a free flower giveaway, seed exchange (bring seeds), and a presentation on native bees, which also will be sharing the sanctuary.
A special guest speaker will be Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Also planned: a display of native bee condos from Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.
As of March 29, six hives now occupy the Bee Sanctuary. "We have four empty hives and space for a total of 12," Downey said. The hives are decorated with such names as "Just Bee," "Bee Happy," "Birdhouse" and "the Whaler Superorganism."
"The bee sanctuary is also place for people to meditate, smell the flowers, watch the bees and hummingbirds in the trees, and learn about permaculture---we're using a drought-tolerant method of gardening called hugelkultur ("hoogle culture") which involves burying logs of different sizes under the soil," Downey said. "The wood breaks down and becomes a sponge able to hold on to a ton of water so that in summer months you don't need to irrigate very much, if at all!"
Sarnat established the Bee Collective in 2005. Downey, who received his bachelor's degree in engineering from UC Davis in 2009, joined the Bee Collective in 2005 and then founded a small beekeeping business, the Davis Bee Charmers in 2010 and the Davis Bee Sanctuary in 2011. As the founder of the Davis Bee Charmers, he catches swarms, relocates hives, and teaches beekeeping lessons to individuals and groups.
Downey invites interested persons to join the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary; information on how to join is on the Davis Wiki website at http://daviswiki.org/Davis_Bee_Collective. He moderates the Google group and adds new members. "If someone wants to just help out and learn about bees, they are always welcome to take part," he said. "We will have hives that are collectively managed so everyone can learn together. If someone wants to keep their own hive there, it is first-come, first served. We have space for 10 to 12 hives, max."
Members of the Bee Collective share resources, such as beekeeping equipment, books, and tools. Downey accepts donations for the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary (contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 694-2405). He recently received dozens of donated perennials.
Bee Sanctuary work parties are held every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the site.
Downey anticipates filling the other empty hives in the sanctuary via swarms he collects in Davis, Dixon, Sacramento, Woodland, and Winters.
Mmeanwhile, the Davis Bee Charmer is hoping the third time is the charm--for the weather to relent, that is.
View of the Davis Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If the weather cooperates, visitors to the Davis Bee Sanctuary can see foragers on the nearby blossoms. This one is on a nectarine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When you try to attract leafcutting bees (Megachile spp.) to your bee condos, you may also attract something else.
Bee condos (wood blocks drilled with holes for native bee nests) are a favorite of gardeners and bee enthusiasts. Leafcutting bees lay their eggs in them, provision them with food for the winter, and seal the holes with leaves. Then, in the spring, if all goes well, their offspring will emerge.
Well, some of them will.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, last year installed some bee condos in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Unlike most bee condos, though, his are removable. That is, you can take them apart and look inside.
Thorp recently did just that. On Dec. 22, he opened one of them and voila! Immature leafcutting bees sharing their bed with immature wasps. The predators and their prey. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
What species of wasp?
"The wasp is one of the solitary mason wasps (family Eumenidae) that uses caterpillars as food for their young," Thorp said. "It may be a species in genus Euodynerus. But I will need to wait until they develop to adults to be sure which genus and species it is."
If you want to attract leafcutting bees, check out Thorp's list of resources for native bee nests.
Just don't expect to rear only native bees.
Bee condo for leafcutting bees includes the offspring (left) of a solitary mason wasp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee (left) emerges from her hole in a photo taken last summer. At right a plugged hole. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee sealing her nest in a photo taken last summer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lots of youngsters received teddy bears as holiday gifts.
But native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, received a teddy bear, too.
A male valley carpenter bee (Xylocopa varipuncta), aka "teddy bear," recently visited his Davis home during the long holiday season. "We found it behind the couch," he said.
It's a green-eyed blond and fuzzy just like a teddy bear, thus its name. The female are solid black.
To the untrained eye, the male is often thought to be "a new species, a golden bumble bee." We get scores of telephone calls asking what this "big yellow bumble bee" is. A bumble bee, it isn't. A carpenter bee, it is.
Every time I see the females buzzing around, I think "Can the 'teddy bears' be far behind?"
I saw one zipping through our garden last summer but it never stopped long enough for me to capture its image.
But with Thorp's "teddy bear," I could. It's in his refrigerator, spending part of the winter there. Soon, he said, he'll give it a little honey.
A male Valley carpenter bee found in the Robbin Thorp home in Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's good to see University of California scientists pursuing rare bumble bees.
The latest news on the bumble bee front: UC Riverside scientists recently rediscovered "Cockerell's Bumble Bee" (Bombus cockerelli Franklin), considered "the rarest of the rare" species of bumble bee in the United States.
It hadn't been seen since 1956. Then, on Aug. 31, 2011 UC Riverside scientists collected the species on weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico.
In a Dec. 5th press release, UC Riverside senior museum scientist Douglas Yanega told senior public information officer Iqbal Pittalwala: "Most bumble bees in the U.S. are known from dozens to thousands of specimens, but not this species. The area it occurs in is infrequently visited by entomologists, and the species has long been ignored because it was thought that it was not actually a genuine species, but only a regional color variant of another well-known species."
Fast-forward to UC Davis Department of Entomology where native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, is pursuing the critically imperiled--and maybe extinct--Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini Frison).
Thorp hasn't seen Franklin's bumble bee since 2006. Its range is a 13,300-square-mile area in Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California, and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon. Up until now, its habitat was thought to be the smallest of any other bumble bee in the world.
Yanega believes that the range of the Cockerell's bumble bee is the smallest in the world. It's less than 300 square miles, he says.
Davis bumble bee enthusiast Gary Zamzow (he studies and photographs bumble bees and is a volunteer in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis), says the latest find is "an exciting discovery and encouraging news. Gives one hope in finding lost bumble bees."
And an interesting note: Henry James Franklin (1883-1958), who monographed the bumble bees of North and South America in 1912-13, named both of them. Franklin named Cockerell's bumble bee for Theodore Dru Allison Cockerell (1866-1948).
Cockerell’s bumble bee. (Photo by Greg Ballmer, UC Riverside)
The criticallly imperiled Franklin's bumble bee. (Photo by Robbin Thorp, UC Davis)
It's not your average garden variety calendar.
It's absolutely bee-utiful.
Native bees reign supreme in “Garden Variety Native Bees of North America,” a calendar produced by University of California alumni as a benefit for two non-profit organizations.
The perpetual calendar, the work of native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin and entomologist/photographer Rollin Coville, both of the Bay Area, features native bees found throughout North America, including the leafcutter bee, bumble bee and sweat bee.
The macro photography is simply stunning. Through these photos, you can get up close and personal with bees you may never have even noticed. The ultra green sweat bees are especially spectacular.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, provided “considerable insight into the biology and ecology of several native bee genera,” said Ets-Hokin.
Also contributing extensively were UC Berkeley faculty members Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremen. Frankie shared his extensive knowledge of native bees in urban gardens. Kremen provided crucial information on native bee crop pollination services, based on her studies in Yolo County.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Great Sunflower Project, a national pollinator monitoring and conservation program based in San Francisco, and the Portland, Ore-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which protects native bees and their habitat throughout the United States.
Each native bee comes complete with information, such as the genus, common name, pollen/nectar sources, emergence time, nesting habit, and distinguishing characteristics.
For instance, you'll learn that bumble bees are excellent crop pollinators; they pollinate such crops as tomatoes, cranberries and blueberries better than honey bees.
You can attract bumble bees to your own garden by planting such pollen/nectar sources as giant hyssop (Agastache); manzanita (Arctostaphylos), ceanothus (Ceanothus); California poppy (Eschscholzia), sunflower (Helianthus); and beard tongue (Penstemon).
It's all there--all there on the calendar.
Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1978, has been photographing insects and spiders for more than 25 years. He is collaborating with Thorp and Frankie on a number of projects, including a book on urban bees. It's due out next year.
Ets-Hokin, a UC Berkeley zoology graduate, devotes her time to the public awareness and conservation of native bees. For the past several years, she has collaborated with the Alameda County Master Gardeners in establishing a native bee demonstration garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland.
Coville takes many of his images there and now he has Ets-Hokin hooked on photography.
Preview the calendar here. Want to order one or more? Go to the printer's website.
This is one of Rollin Coville's stunning photos of a male green sweat bee, Agapostemon. (Photo by Rollin Coville, used with permission),
The cover of the calendar, "Garden Variety Native Bees of North America." (Photos by Rollin Coville)